Anger as post-mortem tests following Stephon Clark shooting dispute police account

Anger as post-mortem tests following Stephon Clark shooting dispute police account
Black Lives Matter movement during a rally in Sacramento, California on Thursday. Photo: Hector Amezcua/The Sacramento Bee via AP.

Post-mortem tests which show an unarmed black man was shot in the back by two police officers in Sacramento, California - contrary to an official statement - have sparked widespread anger and calls for criminal charges.

A day after the fatal shooting of Stephon Clark on March 18th, Sacramento police said in a press release that the officers who shot him "saw the suspect facing them, advance forward with his arms extended, and holding an object in his hands".

However, pathologist Dr Bennet Omalu said that 22-year-old Mr Clark was hit by eight bullets - six in the back, one in the neck and one in the thigh - and took three to 10 minutes to die.

Mr Clark had been holding a mobile phone. Police waited about five minutes before rendering medical aid.

In a news conference, Dr Omalu said: "The proposition that has been presented that he was assailing the officers, meaning he was facing the officers, is inconsistent with the prevailing forensic evidence."

He said it was not clear if Mr Clark would have survived had he received immediate medical attention.

On Friday, several hundred people protested in the Californian capital. Sacramento native and former NBA player Matt Barnes has organised another rally for Saturday afternoon, hours before a Sacramento Kings-Golden State Warriors game will bring thousands of fans to the area.

Several Kings players joined black community activists' calls for racial justice at a Friday night community meeting, nearly two weeks after Mr Clark's death.

Player Garrett Temple said: "I want to make sure that these mistakes that keep happening have consequences."

Sacramento police responded with a brief statement that said the department had not yet received an official post-mortem report from the Sacramento County coroner's office. It said the coroner's death investigation is independent from the investigation being conducted by police and the state Department of Justice.

Police video of the shooting does not clearly capture all that happened after Mr Clark ran into his grandmother's back yard. He initially moved towards the officers, who are peeking out from behind a corner of the house, but it is not clear he is facing them or if he knows they are there when they open fire after shouting "gun, gun, gun".

After 20 shots, officers call to Mr Clark, apparently believing he might still be alive and armed. They eventually approach and find no gun, just a mobile phone.

During Friday's demonstration, several hundred members of the black community called out of the names of black people who have been killed by law enforcement.

Later, protesters chanted outside City Hall before marching, with some briefly entering a bar and chanting Clark's name.

Governor Jerry Brown called the fatal shooting a tragic death that "raises a number of very serious questions and I support the California Attorney General's independent oversight of the investigation".

The post-mortem report was released a day after an emotional funeral service led by the Rev Al Sharpton, who hailed demonstrators for their restraint and urged them to follow the lead of the Rev Martin Luther King Jr and his advocacy of non-violent protest.

- Press Association and Digital Desk

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